Ah! The Virus Attacks

It’s that dreadful time of the year for many a parent. The onset of monsoons and rains in many parts of India – The months when the weather changes (June / July / August). While the rains are welcome for all the good that they bring in our lives (water, relief from the heat, crops, natural aid for agriculture, new fruits / vegetables and foods, etc.), the one unwelcome guest as a part of the package deal are those dreaded “virus attacks”.

 

For those of you who’ve forgotten your school Biology or are completely into those new age cyber-viruses [Even when you Google for “Virus” – most of the links in Page 1 are around computer viruses!], here are some basics of what a “Traditional Virus” is (Src: Wikipedia) “A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea.”, “A virus is an invasive biological agent that reproduces inside the cells of living hosts. When infected by a virus, a host cell is forced to produce many thousands of identical copies of the original virus, at an extraordinary rate”, “Viral infections can cause disease in humans, animals and even plants. However, they are usually eliminated by the immune system, conferring lifetime immunity to the host for that virus. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, but antiviral drugs have been developed to treat life-threatening infections” [Trust me when I say this! The real viruses can create more havoc in a parent’s life than those cyber-viruses :(. Ask your parents / friends who are parents if you don’t believe me!]

Come the rains –The virus is in the air! You go out for one harmless weekend lunch / dinner – And before you know, your kid gets a viral infection! Your kid indulges in cold water or beverages even once, and before you know it, your kid gets a viral infection! You go to your kid’s school – And there are a few dozen children with a viral infection – cold, cough, running nose, mild fever, sneezing. And it’s not serious enough to keep the kids at home – So mummies / daddies pack off the kids to school along with some medication. Sigh! And schools don’t really have a reason to ask the kids to stay at home. So the class is full of a mix of kids – The ‘virus infected’ kids and the healthy kids. And your healthy kid goes to school and sits in a class with a few ‘virus infected’ kids, and before you know it – You’re baby has a viral infection! Sigh again! After all, kids will be kids. They play with their classmates, dance, run and jump around, share water / food / hankies / hugs / spoons / kisses / secrets and whatever else kids share these days! And of course, even the VIRUS 🙁

And the next thing you know, you are at the pediatrician’s door! It’s a long wait to meet the doctor – What with so many parents in the queue – All because of those DEADLY VIRUSES all around!  And the doctor will do a routine examination and give you that knowing look which is not even sympathetic anymore (I know! I know!. Showing sympathy to a hassled parent whose child has a viral infection is not part of the medical syllabus! But any parent would expect at least a little show of sympathy from the doctor – Right?) and write “Viral Infection”.

If the doctor subscribes to a fairly traditional and conservative school of thought, he / she will suggest a couple of home remedies which will typically read as “Give her warm water, Give her steam inhalation, Give her salt water for gargling, Avoid eating out, Give her lots of water and fluids, Give her freshly cooked and healthy food, Give her ginger / honey / tulsi, Let her have lots of rest, etc. If the fever is high, give her some medicine to reduce the fever (SOS basis). Also, you can give these mild cold / cough medication. She should be fine in a few days. If not, we can probably start antibiotics after a few days”. The more aggressive doctors will immediately prescribe a dose of antibiotics for 5 days.

And then you head out to the medical store, buy the prescribed medicines and then head home armed with the ammunitions for the war against the viruses.

Once you head home, it’s another war story all right! The ‘virus-infected’ child is moody, cranky, crying and yelling a lot more than acceptable, not eating food properly, seeking attention, is clinging to the mom, .. Phew! Just writing it exhausted me, so imagine how exhausting it is in real life. And by the time you’ve got through a day with the basics – food, medicines, sleep and the basics at home: The day is over. Sigh Sigh Sigh!

And these viruses I tell you – they are getting stronger with each passing day! When I was a kid, I don’t remember having viral attacks as frequently as my daughter does today or in fact anyone from my school or neighborhood friends having these viral infections so often.

During my last visit to the pediatrician, I learned that according to the latest medical books “Till the age of 5, it is acceptable for a child to have up to 20 viral infections in a year. It’s one way of the body building and strengthening immunity “ and that “recovery from the viral infection takes about 10 days”. A quick back of the mind calculation – 20 / year is about 3 every 2 months. And if each viral infection lasts about 10 days, it’s almost 50% of the time gone in battling the viruses! I even dread thinking about it!

And after the recovery from the viral infections, there’s this thingie called “Post Viral Fatigue / Malaise” – the name given to the after-effects of a “viral infection”. It usually lasts another 5 – 10 days, and the symptoms range from loss of appetite to weakness to moodiness to crankiness to lethargy!

After enduring this ordeal at home, you walk in to work and it’s almost the same scene there! Colleagues around have a “viral infection” – cold, cough, running nose, mild fever, sneezing. And it’s not serious enough to take that precious “sick leave”; so people show up at work! Sigh!  And then you speak to friends and family, and it’s the same story everywhere! The Virus is making its presence felt 🙁

For now, all I wish is an ‘Anti-Virus” Kit to protect my baby. And till the wish is fulfilled – Life will revolve around prevention as much as possible. And if the deadly virus attacks, then ….. I don’t even want to think about it!

So as I sign off, here’s wishing you and your families a “Virus-free” next few months. And if as a parent, you’ve figured a way to prevent it for your kids, leave a comment below. I am sure a zillion mummies / families will be eternally grateful for your “good karma” 🙂

Nischala Murthy Kaushik is an IT & Marketing professional, an IIMB Alumni, a mother and a philosopher. She likes to believe that she is a Scholar & Guru of Life for Life and the Chief Happiness Officer of her life. She blogs @ Nischala’s Space Thoughts and Expressions & VERVE : The Quintessence of my Life. In addition, she is also as a guest blogger in several sites of global repute; and her blogs have been featured in several Best-Of lists on the web. She tweets @nimu9 and is listed among the 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter.

  • “For now, all I wish is an ‘Anti-Virus” Kit to protect my baby.” – As soon as you lay your hands on one, do let me know where I can get it too. You are so right, Nischala. Every season brings with it it’s own illnesses, but this one takes the cake (or the pills?) for visiting us most frequently. Aachoo! Oops, Excuse me! 🙂

    • Nischala

      :).. Will let you know Sakshi.. One slight drizzzle yesterday here ; and it already seems to be showing the signs.. Aachoo!!

  • Post viral fatigue can easily be minimized / eliminated by ensuring at least 20-25% additional intake of food & water over daily consumption. Since one with viral attack has a bitter mouth and zero taste (Man hi nahin hai khane ko) it is more important to ensure intake.
    Let us look at a child weighing 10 kgs who takes 400-500 ml of fluids daily in addition to regular meals; with viral fever, requirement is 500-600 ml (body temperature also burns body water – fever of 102F requirement 700 ml). Now if this child takes 250-300 ml – 50% deficit – bingo! Semi dehydration without a single vomit/ loose stool. Paediatrician will say “post viral fatigue is normal”. No, it is not normal.
    I am happy that at least my patients do not know what is post viral/ post malaria or post typhoid fatigue. 🙂

  • Nischala

    Hi Dr – Thanks for sharing this.. The point is kids food intake reduces during viral, so getting them to eat itself becomes a challenge, let alone eat more 🙁 … And post-viral fatigue can sometimes be more difficult / longer than the viral itself… Your patients are surely lucky :).. But if you suggest anything which can help in prevention of a viral infection – Do let us know…! Nischala